Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless vs. City of Cleveland Timeline

February-March 1993

A great deal of street vending legislation was passed in anticipation of the new baseball stadium to limit vending products downtown.

November 1993:

A Grapevine vendor was arrested and jailed for disorderly conduct and vending without a license.

Early 1995:

City of Cleveland officials offered to exempt the vendors from the fee, but require Grapevine vendors to get a city issued license. Legislation was even drawn up to support this concept. NEOCH and ACLU reject settlement for fear that it would restrict the distribution and set a bad precedent.

October 1994:

Three homeless people, as well as NEOCH, file a lawsuit against the City for illegally picking up and dumping homeless people on the outskirts of town.

Early 1994:

The American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of NEOCH/Homeless Grapevine filed a lawsuit to protect the distribution of the paper. The District court imposed an injunction on further ticketing while the case was before the court.

May 3, 1995:

U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aldrich ruled the vendor license fee violated our vendor’s first amendment rights.

Late 1995:

Mayor Michael White decides to appeal the District Court ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Late 1996 The case is argued in U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati before a three-judge panel.

February 3, 1997:

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the District Court decision. The three-judge panel said the city had a right to restrict commerce on the streets and protect the public from “fraud.”

April 1997:

The court rejected an appeal to the entire Sixth Circuit Appeals Court to re-hear the case.

July 1997:

ACLU files an Appeal to the United States Supreme Court.

October 20, 1997:

The U.S. Supreme Court refuses without comment to hear the case. The case made the first cut, but in the end four out of the nine justices could not agree to hear the case. This ended the injunction on ticketing our vendors, and exhausted the Grapevine’s efforts in the judicial system to seek relief from the licensing.

November 1, 1997:

Despite no public change in policy by the White administration, a police officer #2151 took it upon himself to ticket Stanley Williams for vending without a license.

November 7, 1997:

One of the Grapevine vendors attempted to get a license for vending the paper from the city and was denied because the city had not set up a policy for Grapevine vendors.

November 10, 1997:

Grapevine editors and supporters met with Cleveland City officials about the licensing issue, and presented a proposal to have the vending licensing privatized and done by the Grapevine staff.

November 25, 1997:

The case against Stanley Williams was thrown out because of confusion between the Police and the Licensing Department.

First and Second Week of December 1997:

Another vendor was ticketed three times by the same police officer #1068. These tickets were dismissed before the trial by the City Prosecutor.

December 12, 1997:

Met with Mayor White. He said unequivocally that our vendors would be licensed by the city or they would not sell in Cleveland. He was willing to exempt the fee, but we had to “work with his staff” or the deal was off. Basically, White said, “we won; you lost, and so you live by our rules."

Late December, 1997:

We had three series of meetings with the City to work out the details of how our vendors would be obligated to get a license and how that would work.

January 4, 1998:

Mayor White cited his contact with a Grapevine vendor in his inaugural speech, claiming that the vendor was articulate and courteous so he offered him a job.

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published 1998 Issue 24